In So Many Words
“People think pleasing God is all God cares about, but any fool in the world can see he is always trying to please us back…always making little surprises and springing them on us when we least expect it.” (Alice Walker, The Color Purple.)
The “little surprises” are daily gifts but how often do we notice them? The cares and anxieties of our day seize our attention; we are beaten down by the pressures of work, the daily grind that is everyone’s lot. Dismal stories of the state of our planet assault us on every side. A sense of powerlessness drains us of our get-up-and-go. What can I do in the face of all this? How can I help stem the tide of destruction, save the earth, revive the seas? We feel helpless in the face of the multitude of poor, of migrants, of people destroyed by wars and famine.
As we know only too well, and as scripture tells us, “The land mourns, and all who dwell in it languish and also the beasts of the field, and the birds of the air; and even the fish of the sea are taken away.” (Hos 4:3). The prophet’s words ring true for us today as they did millennia ago. And the reason for the sorry situation? “There is no faithfulness of kindness and no knowledge of God in the land; there is swearing, lying, killing, stealing and committing adultery…murder follows murder…”
Our task is to take notice, to pause and wonder—and give thanks.
Only with great hope can we face this desolate reality. God’s marvels are to be enjoyed, celebrated, sung, danced to because God delights in his creation, especially in us, whom he loves unconditionally. “It is beauty that will save the world.” Dostoevsky’s profound insight points to a way in dark times. When we realize that God is present in every blade of grass, every drop of water, every tree and flower and bird, every single person, will we not be joyful? Our task is to take notice, to pause and wonder—and give thanks.
As strands of the one web of life, we are connected to others and to nature, in a relationship of friendship where our love is active, caring and responsible. With a “mighty kindness” to one another, we reach out in forgiveness and not condemnation. The eyes of our heart will be opened so that we will be alert to God’s presence everywhere, even in the most wretched situation.
We do not blot out the ugliness or deny the pain but most of all we trust God’s compassion and love to open the windows of wonder and lead us to praise, tenderly for the home entrusted to us. And as we do, “let us sing as we go.” (Laudato Si)
Columban Sr. Redempta Twomey lives and works in Ireland.